The idea that robot can do some things more efficient and effective than human being has delivered initiatives to develop robotics engineering as a branch of science and discovery nowadays. A wild imagination says that in the near future the boundary between human and machine is disappearing due to the advancements in the field; allowing humans to enhance themselves with cybernetic parts. Ghost in the Shell, the most recent Scarlett Johansson movie, visualizes this wild fantasy which occurs in the era when technology makes it possible to transplate human brain into a fully synthetic body; a initiative that results in the strongest attributes of human and robot.
Mira (Scarlett Johansson) has no past memories other than being drowned. A terrorist attack has damaged her body and it’s only her brain can survive. Thanks to Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche) who manages to put her brain into a synthetic body operated using robotics technology developed by Hank Robotics. Mira is finally survive, being the first generation of robot and human being. However, Cutter (Peter Ferdinando), the Hanka CEO, sees this breakthrough as an asset to his company; seeing Mira merely as a weapon instead of a perfect combination between human and robot. He insists that Mira should be placed in Section 9, combating against terrorist. The miracle, according to Dr. Ouelet, is now a powerful and deadly weapon. Also the future of Hanka Robotics.
One year later, Mira is now the Major working under Chief Daisuke Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano) in Section 9. A brutal murder in a hotel with the President of the African Federation and Dr. Osmond (Michael Wincott) of Hanka Robotics as victims leads to further investigation, and Mira has to work hand in hand with Batou (Pilou Asbaek) since the incident involves a cerebral hacking into Dr. Osmond’s performed by a geisha robot (Rila Fukushima). This leads to serious discussion between Togusa (Chin Han), Ladriya (Danusia Samal), Chief Daisuke, Batou, Mira and other colleagues at Section 9 headquarter while, at the same time, Dr. Dahlin (Anamaria Marinca) is investigating the geisha robot. This is a puzzling case since a man identifies himself as Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt) leaves a message saying that anyone collaborating with Hanka Robotics will be destroyed. The case becomes more difficult to solve since the geisha robot was a Hanka’s companion bot but reprogrammed for cerebral hacking and the data was destroyed when it was transmitted; leaving Mira no choice but performing ‘dive’ to discover the answer and find Kuze. The team eventually finds Kuze’s whereabouts, and Mira has a short conversation with Kuze who apparently the failed version of her kind. The encounter has risen existential problem to her; something that Kuze himself tries to seek the answer by performing cerebral hacking. He himself suggests her not to take the medication in order to unearth her own memories, saying, “Your shell belongs to them, but not your ghost. Your ghost is yours.” Dr. Ouelet has nothing more to offer but giving her the truth, her true past; something Cutter conceals so far.
Existential problem remains interesting theme to be filmed, and it’s easier to visualize using action and science fiction approach. This tendency is getting stronger with the advancement of science and technology nowadays. It might be due to long dialogues and drama bring boredom sooner; that audience becomes more visual than ever. Truly speaking, the amazing part of Ghost in the Shell is the visual and graphical effects in addition to Scarlet Johansson’s action. The story itself is quite predictable though we have to admire Rupert Sanders’ effort to make the cinema work more interesting through nice plot and superb characterization. One thing for sure, Ghost in the Shell will promptly win the heart those who have interest in robotics engineering and the advancement of the field in the future.